Fifth-year senior guard Madisen Smith of the Mountaineer women’s basketball team has been selected to represent West Virginia University and the Big 12 Conference at the first-ever Student-Athlete Summit at the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Summer League. The event will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, from July 12-15.
 
“I’m just eager to learn everything I can from all the executives, coaches, the NBA and the WNBA, and from other colleges around the country,” Smith said. “I just want to soak in all the information I can and ask as many questions as possible. I also want to live in the moment and just have a great experience.”
 
Smith is one of 15 student-athletes across all major college conferences that will be represented at the inaugural event, which is a branch of the NBA’s SALA platform – an events and media company that brings together a diverse group of accomplished leaders from across a wide range of industries. The Greenville, South Carolina, native joins Baylor forward Caitlin Bickle and Texas Tech guard Lexy Hightower as representatives from the Big 12.
 
Over the course of the four-day conference, Smith and the group of student-athletes will participate in panel discussions, networking sessions, tours and much more. Several professional organizations are expected to contribute to the summit, including the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat and the UFC. Moreover, the summit will include guest speakers such as ESPN on-air talent Monica McNutt, UFC chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein and NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer Mark Tatum.
 
Smith, who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in sport management in December 2021, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in sport coaching and hopes this conference will equip her with the skills to mold and teach a new generation of basketball players in the future. Moreover, the fifth-year guard is itching to learn how to mold herself professionally this week, so that she may impart that same wisdom to her teammates and others in the future.
 
“They’ve helped us build our resumes up and get on LinkedIn, so we can really get our profiles out to show who we are as people – not just as athletes,” Smith added. “That’s great, because people don’t usually get to see the other side of us. It’s great that we have the opportunity to go and look professional, and they’ll see that side of us.”
 
SALA is a community of leaders from a variety of backgrounds who share a common motivation to engage around important societal and business matters and help drive positive change.
 
In addition to the numerous new business relationships and friendships fostered through the platform, connections are facilitated between members and leading nonprofits that are making a sustainable impact in society. 
 
To date, SALA has hosted over 350 events (300-plus online since March 2020) and the community continues to grow (1,250-plus overall).
 
“I’m definitely honored,” Smith concluded. “I’m grateful that I was able to be nominated and that I was chosen as one of these few student-athletes. This a great networking opportunity, and since I want to get into coaching, this also is a great jump-start for my future career.”